I read this a couple of days ago. I'm not surprised for the most part, but a bit, yes. I've always felt very safe here, at any hour day or night. I've been told by Korean friends to be careful, to not walk alone after dark, etc. All because they heard of a few instances where things did happen. I think that in relation to the population, it isn't so bad. The OECD Classificion DOES surprise me, a lot.
Rash of Violent Crimes Leaves Korean Women Frightened
Many Korea women are anxious these days after a series of murders, rapes and other crimes targeting women made headlines recently.
Last August, two female office workers were abducted and murdered by illegal taxi drivers near Hongik University in Seoul, and in September a police officer raped two women in a subway parking lot late at night, stealing some W19 million (US$1=W917) in cash and valuables.
Earlier this month, a man in his 30s was arrested for raping nine women who were returning home at night in Seongbuk district in northern Seoul. Women now are increasingly afraid to catch a cab at night or even to go out.
With the surging growth of women in the Korean work force, economic participation by females has reached 54.8 percent. However public security measures to protect women at night remain neglected. According to the National Police Agency, more than a third of all violent crimes including murder, robbery, and rape occur between midnight and four a.m.
Korea is classified a "danger country" in terms of women's public safety by the 30-member OECD. According to the OECD's Social and Welfare Statistics for 2007, the homicide rate for Korean women is 1.7 per every 100,000 people, the third highest after the U.S. (2.7) and Iceland (2.2).
Experts say it's urgent that safety be ensured in cabs, the most frequently used means of transportation for working women at night. Most cabs including private and company-run ones are considered safe but measures must be taken against illegal contract cabs that are often used in crimes.
Contract cabs refer to licensed cabs that can be rented from an owner or a company for around W100,000 a day. They allow criminals to act as cab divers as long as they can pay. An estimated 5,000 contract cabs cruise the streets of Seoul.
"While more than 80 percent of people in Korea catch cabs on the street, most people in other countries have to call," said Park Yong-hun from the Coalition for Transportation Culture of Korea. "We should pursue a system for women-only call cabs."
Many also point out the need to step up public safety measures in secluded places like parking lots and alleys by setting up watch posts and CCTV cameras. "Women returning home late at night are the easiest targets for criminals, since they look for vulnerable victims in places where they can most easily commit crimes," said researcher Hwang Gi-tae of the Korea Institute of Criminal Justice Policy.